The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch and former governor Ihor Kolomoyskyy, who has business interests in the United States, over alleged corruption
“In his official capacity as a governor of Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk oblast from 2014 to 2015, Kolomoyskyy was involved in corrupt acts that undermined rule of law and the Ukrainian public’s faith in their government’s democratic institutions and public processes, including using his political influence and official power for his personal benefit,” Blinken said.
“While this designation is based on acts during his time in office, I also want to express concern about Kolomoyskyy’s current and ongoing efforts to undermine Ukraine’s democratic processes and institutions, which pose a serious threat to its future.”
The sanctions extend to his wife Iryna and two children, making them ineligible for entry into the United States.
Kolomoyskyy’s real estate management and investment firm, Optima Management Group, is also under investigation over allegations of fraud and money laundering.
The Justice Department has alleged that Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov, who owned PrivatBank, one of the largest banks in the Ukraine, embezzled and defrauded the bank out of billions of dollars. In August the US filed two civil forfeiture complaints against two properties worth a combined US$70 million belonging to Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov.
The two are accused of obtaining fraudulent loans and lines of credit from approximately 2008 through 2016, when the scheme was uncovered, and the bank was nationalized by the National Bank of Ukraine. The complaints allege that they laundered a portion of the criminal proceeds using an array of shell companies’ bank accounts, primarily at PrivatBank’s Cyprus branch, before they transferred the funds to the United States.
Allegedly, the properties were part of the “hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate and businesses,” that were purchased throughout the US in an effort to launder a portion of the billions that the two siphoned from PrivatBank between approximately 2008 and 2016.
Separately, two other Ukrainians alleged to have provided money laundering services to online fraudsters have been extradited from the Czech Republic for trial in the US.
Viktor Vorontsov, 39, and Zlata Hanska Muzhuk, 40, deny a charge of conspiracy to launder funds.
According to the indictment, they were allegedly members of an international, organised network providing cash-out and money laundering services to cyber actors who used stolen bank login credentials to initiate fraudulent electronic funds’ transfers from victims’ bank accounts to ‘drop’ bank accounts created and controlled by the cash-out actors, the justice department said.
“For a fee, Muzhuk and Vorontsov provided a network of drop accounts and money mules to receive, transfer and conceal money derived from the fraudulent online transfers of funds,” it added.
The indictment alleges the conspiracy existed throughout 2017. The charge focuses on seven electronic funds transfers in October and November that year totalling almost $500,000 (€416,000).
The justice department says that during the FBI’s investigation, the Czech National Organised Crime Agency gathered evidence and arrested the pair February last year. Extradition requests were granted for Muzhuk in December and Vorontsov in January. They were transferred to FBI custody on 3 March and flown from Prague to Dallas, Texas.
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